As with any parent, Denyse Persad’s children are her world. But in less than a year, her heart has endured the pain of seeing it come crashing down. Her young son Stephan’s once-vibrant life has now turned upside down after a surprise cancer diagnosis.
When a team from Guardian Media visited the family’s La Romaine home yesterday, the first interactions with the mother of two underscored how a mother’s love is unconditional and unwavering, especially during the most trying moments.
As she caressed her 29-year-old son’s head while he lay beneath a blanket during the midday heat, she looked at him, fought back the tears and pledged, “I would do anything on the face of this earth to get you that treatment because you have to get well, you have to be walking on this earth with me and your sister and your fiancé and you have to stay with me.”
Earlier this year, shockwaves rippled through the Persad family when Stephan visited a dental clinic after complaining about a toothache. A series of tests were conducted and a nightmarish revelation was made. The once active, vibrant and fun-loving young man was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer which affects the blood cells. Denyse recalled that the doctors came out with a look of disbelief and questioned if anyone in the family had cancer.
“I said no, then they said something is very wrong here,” Denyse told Guardian Media.
Since the bleak news, Stephan has been in and out of the hospital, flown to Cuba for treatment prior to the country’s border closure and undergone bouts of chemotherapy. Through it all, however, a smile never seems to leave his face.
Denyse, who still grieves the recent loss of her husband, said Stephan is the flame she needs to keep her family going.
“No parent should ever have to look at their child like this and to think that he is doing all the right things, as a young man he’s trying his best, he’s working, gyming, he always brings people together.”
With a race against time to raise over two million dollars to get Stephan the treatment he needs, he has chosen to slow down for a special moment, reminding all of the power of love.
“After receiving the bad news on Wednesday, with doctors saying I have a few weeks to live, I said making plans now doesn’t make any sense, so last Sunday I got my girlfriend a ring with the help of my mum and I knelt down in the kitchen and proposed to her,” Stephan revealed.
Stephan has been in a relationship with his girlfriend Crystal Kowlessar for the last three years. He said she has been with him through thick and thin and never thought twice about leaving when the going became tough for him. He said above anyone else, he was indebted to his mother for her sacrifices and support.
“If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be alive right now, if wasn’t for her, my sister my family and friends I wouldn’t be doing this interview, I would’ve passed away already,” he said.
The family has started a Fund Me T&T page to help raise funds for Stephan’s surgery. With every little going a long way, they’re thankful for the support so far. Anyone wishing to support the family can contact Mrs Persad at 702-4229.